Knowing your data is a crucial first step to see real change. The annual reporting of corporate UK’s gender pay gap plays an important role in enabling boards to examine their performance and to monitor progress.
However, it can be dispiriting for individual employees – particularly women. Every year I hear from Women on Boards’ members who, unsurprisingly, are not impressed by even modest pay gaps and wonder what they can do about it.
The real solution lies in organisational culture and values, and therefore with the leadership team and board. However, there are practical steps anyone can take no matter your position in the business.
First, find out the pay gap breakdown in your division and what plans there are to address it. This may be reassuring – or not. Either way, it will empower you with the knowledge to add to internal pressure for change. But tread carefully. Back off if your interest isn’t welcome as research shows pushing on closed doors can be dangerous, particularly if you are still early in your career. If you are more senior – now is the time to use your influence. You may also be able to build support across the organisation (hello, women’s networks) to ask collectively for action, as women at the BBC have done.
Additionally, take practical steps to enhance how your employer values your personal contribution. There are specific career strategies which women need to employ to fulfil their leadership potential, which we share in our career development support. We focus on quick wins and practical advice, based on global research.
I also advocate knowledge of the boardroom, regardless of your age and experience, to boost your career. Many people combine a small community board with a full-time job. You will gain stretch leadership experience which may give you that extra edge when going for a promotion or into those crucial pay and bonus negotiations. See ‘Why joining a board is good for you – and your employer’ for more on this [cross link].
Above all, don’t be disheartened by the status quo. Making progress will feel easier with a supportive network of like-minded women around you. Women on Boards is a network full of influential professionals who you can call upon for encouragement, information and support.
Find out more about Women on Boards and join our network.
To find out about the in-house career development support we offer our Corporate Partners, please get in touch via email@example.com
Fiona is co-founder and Managing Director of Women on Boards UK. She is a former investment director for Old Mutual Asset Management, running the Global Equities and Emerging Markets Desks. Alongside running Women on Boards UK, Fiona advises the stockbroker Peel Hunt, is a Judge for the Non-Executive Director Awards, sponsored by The Sunday Times, and a Patron of the charity Fight for Sight.